Creating better places

Communities can’t thrive without assets. Good quality green spaces, accessible places to meet and committed volunteers are all critical to the wellbeing of our neighbourhoods.

Not every community has these resources on tap. Public sector spending cuts have hit disadvantaged areas especially hard and there’s an urgent need for new investment in our social and environmental infrastructure.

Groundwork supports and inspires people of all ages and backgrounds to take part in collective action to create better places to live. That could be developing or managing parks, play areas, community centres and growing spaces, or creating community projects and enterprises that provide essential support and services to those in need.

Through our work we celebrate the diversity and heritage of our neighbourhoods and our specialist teams of community enablers, youth workers and landscape professionals bring people together with a shared purpose to improve their surroundings. We know that vibrant, safe, high quality local environments play a huge role in keeping people well and helping communities become more integrated and resilient.

...The programme was tailored to specific needs of our residents, developed and delivered with optimum engagement, involvement and participation of each person who attended, engendering an inclusive approach for gender, age, diversity...

Central Bedfordshire Council

Creating an outstanding space
for play and sport

Groundwork is one of North Hertfordshire District Council’s (NHDC) chosen delivery partners for their Green Space Management Strategy across the district. Groundwork has helped NHDC develop and improve a number of community spaces and places.

The partnership has spanned ten years and over the past three years, Groundwork has been responsible for community consultation, fundraising, design and implementation of work on NHDC Green Space projects.

During this long-term partnership, Groundwork has been involved in the plans to improve Bancroft Recreation Ground, from initial master planning for the park in 2010-11, to supporting funding bids. Groundwork worked to secure part-funding from Sport England. This funding, alongside NHDC’s own budget, paved the way for elements of the masterplan, to be delivered as staged projects over the last eight years.

The most recently completed stage of the project at Bancroft Recreation Ground was finalised in 2017. After a series of consultation events with local residents in Hitchin and pupils at the Priory School, a pendulum swing and climbing structure were installed for older children and a natural play area was created, including boulders and a standing stone circle for younger visitors.

In addition to this, improvements to the river frontage and planting areas were also completed during this phase, as well as re-routing the existing pathway away from the river to make it safer for residents accessing the park.

The next phase at Bancroft is currently underway and will see the creation of a Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA) in place of one of the unused bowling greens, to increase the space available for a variety of different sports to be played by the local community.

Again a community consultation helped to shape this new feature and the new MUGA will make it possible for local residents to play tennis, netball, basketball and football. The installation of floodlights means residents will be able to stay active all year round. The MUGA will be completed during 2019.

Andrew Mills, Service Manager for Green Spaces at North Hertfordshire District Council said: “NHDC has a long standing relationship with Groundwork regarding capital projects. Groundwork employs professional advisors with an excellent range of skills and accountability, together with leadership, goal setting and excellent communication skills. Groundwork is an organisation that strives to achieve excellence and they most certainly make a difference on projects by leading from the front.”

How the carrier bag charge is benefitting the mental and physical wellbeing of local men

Lowestoft Men’s Shed began and after successfully growing they wanted to introduce a shed, greenhouse and beehive, to enable members to grow food and support wildlife conservation.

Chairperson Raymond Ball applied for a Tesco Bags of Help grant in 2018 and was awarded £2,000.

“The Lowestoft Men’s Shed began following a meeting of four local people with a shared interest of helping men with loneliness. Having agreed a way forward, we acquired a corrugated fish net drying and mending shed and invited others to join a meeting.

“12 men got involved and we organised a committee and quickly got moving to make the shed a habitable working environment. It has attracted support from our local MP who funded the purchase of hand tools for the woodworking area.

“Lowestoft Men’s Shed promotes the preservation and protection of men’s good health, through the provision of facilities to help improve mental and physical wellbeing. The project provides additional support to bring people together to build strong relationships in and across communities; combatting loneliness and providing support in times of need.

“The grant allowed us to clear an area of overgrowth, build a garden shed, three beehives and erect boundary fencing, we also purchased a greenhouse.

“We are all very proud of the lovely comfortable outside space in which we can spend time together, a place where we can grow as a community of friends, a place full of banter and laughter. Thank you Tesco!”

Giving a war veteran his garden back

World War Two Veteran Richard Day asked Groundwork for help with his overgrown garden as both the front and back had become out of control. He contacted the Green Aiders project as the front of his house had become so overgrown that due to health and safety concerns, the Royal Mail had refused to continue delivering mail to the property. This meant that at 91 years old, Mr Day had to travel to the local post office branch each week to pick up his mail.

During an initial visit funded by The Royal British Legion, the Green Aiders team completely cleared the front garden. The team of volunteers removed large areas of overgrown shrubs, brambles, long grass, and even uncovered a forgotten car on the driveway! As a result, Richard can now walk along his driveway and there is clear access to his front door. This has significantly reduced his risk of suffering slips, trips or falls and also puts him at less risk from rogue traders. Furthermore, the Royal Mail now delivers his post again!

“The work that has been completed has made such a big difference, people are stopping me in the street to tell me how greatly improved the garden now is, they just can’t believe it. It is great there is a service like this out there, I have been unable to leave the house for large periods due to health issues and the garden just got beyond control. I love my garden and it is great that it is now returning to its former glory” said Richard.

During the visit, one of the regular volunteers, Phil, was so moved by Mr Day’s situation and with his own military and personal history that he was keen to return to help maintain the garden. Phil has now cleared the rear garden and made regular visits throughout the summer to prevent the garden becoming overgrown again.

Clearing overgrown gardens and improving employability

20 participants across three courses in Clacton-on-Sea and Basildon have boosted their employability whilst also helping vulnerable local residents to feel safer and happier in their homes.

As part of the Unlocking Potential course, unemployed people with mental health issues and mild learning difficulties gained new gardening skills and boosted their confidence, whilst working as a team to help clear the gardens of vulnerable residents. Thanks to the hard work of the participants, the residents now have a safe space to enjoy, without worrying about tripping or falling.

The participants not only gained new practical skills but they also learned how to improve their CVs and benefitted from interview and job searching tips.